Despite the tenacity of publishers pushing traditional role-playing games into the mainstream, they often have difficulty appealing to a wide audience. Tactical role-playing games, however, simply forego attempts to attract a mass market and recognize their niche. While a handful of traditional role-playing games have proven successful (the Final Fantasy, The Elder Scrolls series), there hasn’t been a single tactical role-playing game that has succeeded in penetrating the mainstream. NIS America understands the limited appeal of tactical role-playing games; heretofore, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories plays to this strength. If you don’t even know what a tactical role-playing game is, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is not for you; rather, this solid extension of NIS America’s lauded young series has been tailored with fans in mind.
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories follows the story of Adell, a human trapped in a world slowly being transformed into a bastion of demons by the Overlord Zenon. In the hopes of preventing his family from being disfigured into monsters, Adell sets out to challenge the Overlord and end his reign. You play as Adell in his efforts to break the demonic curse, picking up additional party members along the way for turn-based tactical combat. Unlike other titles in the genre, Disgaea 2 is light-hearted; even though the story is packed with cheesy cliches, it manages to pepper the action with a few humorous clips that set it apart from other tactical role-playing games.
Gameplay consists of turn-based battles fought with customizable characters that gain experience and new abilities. Disgaea 2 inherits the battle system of the previous game, itself derivative of other tactical role-playing games. Borrowing battle elements isn’t necessarily bad, as Disgaea 2 succeeds in fine-tuning the mechanics for a fluid, highly enjoyable experience. Battles are challenging, not solely because of enemy strength but due to the inherent difficulty of the maps. Varied terrain and colored GeoPanels corresponding with special effects characterize the maps that serve to mix up gameplay. To put it simply, Disgaea 2 easily possesses one of the best, if not the most outstanding battle system implemented yet in a tactical role-playing game.
Like the original game, Disgaea 2 enables an amazing amount of character development with hundreds of weapons, equipment, and items. Even items can be enhanced by actually entering the object and battling your way through randomly generated maps to raise the item’s level. Followers of the genre will be pleased with the amount of gameplay, particularly since much of it is spent in battle. When accounting only for battles necessary for moving the story along, the game easily provides 40 hours of gameplay; throw in item customization and various other distractions and Disgaea 2 offers well over 100 hours of play. For loyal fans of tactical role-playing games, Disgaea 2 is a veritable treasure trove; however, for casual players, battles will only remain interesting for the first 10 hours, after which the game begins to feel repetitive.
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories faithfully extends the solid tactical gameplay of the original title while catering to hardcore gamers with new elements that make it a worthwhile purchase. Certainly the series faithful will find much to love here; but, if you’re searching for a casual experience, Disgaea 2: Cursed: Memories is too big, complex, and steeped in corny anime jokes to be enjoyable. Simply put, NIS America’s latest tactical role-playing game is a must-have for genre fans, but a little too extreme for the common gamer.
- Overall: 8.5
- A solid sequel that’s worth your time
– Tracy Erickson